Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Perilous Journey - Photographs of Roadside Memorials (Part 4)

McLane - Rosamond, California
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

One aspect of the name Perilous Journey that might not seem obvious is the journey of the photographer. This project is perilous for me, and perhaps not for the reasons that you might expect.

Some people have told me that this project is dangerous because I'm photographing alongside roadways with traffic passing feet away. But I don't feel that this is unsafe. First, most of these roadside memorials are placed well off of the right-of-way. Look at McLane above, the memorial is on the other side of a small ditch. Most of the photographs in this project are well clear of the traffic. I made sure that there was no traffic at all whatsoever in situations where I needed to be closer to the road. In some cases I have left the memorial unphotographed, deciding that my own safety is more important than a picture.

So how is Perilous Journey a perilous journey for me?

First, I need to make sure that I am being respectful. Roadside memorials are a lot like gravestones. I must make sure that I'm not being offensive in any way to the grieving folks who built these.

I also need to be sure that I don't change or wreck anything. There have been times that I wanted to move something in order to improve a photograph. These are not my memorials to change, so I decided that I would not do anything to them.

Finally, I must make sure that I don't get excited about finding memorials. Roadside memorials were built because someone died. I would much rather that the person was alive and no memorial was needed than to have a roadside memorial. These things are sad, and I must take care to not lose sight of that.

For those who the memorials were built for, the literal journey was perilous. For me, it is a metaphoric journey that is perilous. It is about my attitude and my approach.
A Cross Field - Palmdale, California
Rural Cross - Lancaster, California
Two Remember - Palmdale, California
There Is No Life In This Place - Lancaster, California
Tim McKelvey - Lancaster, California
Shawn Miller - Tehachapi, California

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